A historic NFT collection of African art, poetry and culture – Nairametrics

There is a wide variety of masks in Africa. The existence of African masks dates back to the Stone Age, with traditional masks worn during celebrations, rituals, festivities and ceremonies of social and religious significance. African masks most often represent spirits, animals, ancestors, entities, mythological heroes and moral values. Their shape and function can cover the face, the whole head or even the whole body. The size of a mask, its shape, its colors and the materials used tell a symbolic story between the different African tribes.

Many Africans communities practice a tradition of shows called masquerades. These community mask ceremonies, or dances, provide entertainment and music while defining social roles with religious significance. Masks that are worn to perform in full costume are considered works of art. Charles Mbata, founder and CEO of Jungle color, is a digital art collector and curator who grew up watching masquerade performances as a child in Nigeria. His knowledge and understanding of the immutable blockchain technology has become an inspiration.

Motivated by a desire to preserve the history and heritage of indigenous African art, MbataThe ambition of has become the visionary catalyst for one of the most culturally significant African art projects ever created on the blockchain. Together in collaboration with Chuma anagbado, award-winning multidisciplinary designer, artist and entrepreneur, 15 talented performance poets were brought together. Mask is a remarkable historical collection of spoken word TVNs; anchored in visual art and illustrious cultures of Africa’s past and present.

Mask is an NFT collection of 100 hand drawn, digitally painted and animated illustrations reminiscent of Igbo ethnicity from Africa. The collection is a fusion of art, poetry, music, song and movement produced by contemporary designers. Anagbadothe signature style of is a nuanced blend of modern technology and Nigerian traditions; each work of art conveys 100 distinct expressions imbued with deep cultural meanings that transcend generations of human history. “The idea is to showcase all of Africa,” Anagbado said.

“We started to play with the idea of ​​sounds, instruments and poetry to bring the masks to life.” – Charles Mbata

Being a passionate collector of Anagbado, their collaboration was born from the familiarity between the same minds. “NFTs give us the opportunity to create something multidimensional”, said Anagbado. While recognizing Africa’s artistic contributions to global culture, Anagbado remains aware of Africa’s present, which informs and inspires its process and technique to conceptualize works of modern art that honor and reflect the past while at the same time celebrating Africa now.

Anagbado is the co-founder of Design Aziza, Nigeria’s 1st multidisciplinary design firm. He is also actively involved with Mbari Uno (House of Collaboration), a collective of designers and professionals in activities rooted in indigenous realities. All the poets featured in the Mask collection are the leaders of the word; galvanized by the creative ambitions of their own community to explore opportunities for collaborative growth.

“We let the poets name them” Anagbado Explain. The title of each NFT is the name of the piece performed by each poet in reaction to and in response to the NFT art with which they have been associated. Bunmi Africa, performance writer and poet, first discovered NFT when she was approached to participate in the Mask project. “When you look at the paintings and compare them to what I wrote and performed you will see a lot of similarities, because that’s what I got from the masks” she said.

“NFTs are a different way of bringing my continent, my country and my culture to the world.” – Bunmi Africa

After conducting his own extensive research with a view to Mask, Stacey Ravvero, a multilingual artist, author and curator, was inspired to incorporate French, Spanish and Urhobo, his native dialect, in his poems. French and Spanish are local languages ​​in many parts of Africa, but Urhobo is a dying language. “As an urban historian, it is my responsibility to do what little I can, even if I am not speaking as fluently as I would like. “ Ravvero said.

“Inclusiveness was key for me in a way that everyone felt represented in what I wrote, and that’s access to it.” – Stacey Ravvero

Although English is the main language spoken, care and attention has been taken to include local languages ​​and convey a sense of authenticity. “I felt that it was very important for me to impregnate parts of my tongue” Africa noted. Anagbado wanted us to interpret the masks in our own way, so he gave us a lot of freedom. Many of my pieces are titled in Yoruba. I gave them old names of gods and masquerades. I have also included Yorùbá proverbs and rituals.

Unlike the typical process of creating NFT collections by writing code that randomly generates unique combinations of predefined traits and attributes, each NFT in the Mask the collection is handmade by Anagbado himself. His work embraces the Mbari concept; a highly collaborative investment of time and emotion. When contributors share ideas, knowledge and resources, the Mbari ideology offers space for nuanced works extolling the material and non-material aspects of cultural expression. “We can extend that to holograms and 3D experiences that you can interact with and touch, maybe those will become extensions,” Anagbado considered.

“Masked forced me to confront parts of my culture that I have long ignored. “- Stacey Ravvero

“A lot of people in my generation don’t know much about our history and the deeper parts of our culture. So when you are faced with a project like this, you come back to the books – to your grandparents and your parents to make sure that you represent your culture in the best possible way. It gave me a kind of identity that I was missing, and I hope others will gain knowledge and a sense of identity through art.

Developed during the Covid pandemic and the containment that followed, the masks have become a symbol illustrating the reality of protection and the importance of their collaboration. 15 spoken word artists who have contributed to Mask have now been presented to NFTs, and after a year of development, Masked is poised to create the largest contingent of Nigerian poets on the blockchain in a single day.

“Masked is an NFT project that we will all look forward to with pride in the future. Years from now we will understand all the cultural and historical implications of projects like this. – Charles Mbata

Projects like Mask unite people of African descent in a common heritage to connect with their roots. Nigeria is already unrivaled in Africa in terms of cultural production, with its influences in modern music changing the sound of global pop.


10% of the proceeds from the sale of Mask will be donated to Osiri University, an online platform dedicated to bridging the educational gap, mainly in Africa. Osiri University offers a decolonized curriculum for many who would otherwise not have access to higher education. In addition to its educational programs, Osiri University presents entrepreneurial opportunities for students auspicious to start businesses with mentorship and funding.

John Kalu Osiri, Founder of Osiri University, plans to launch a full course on cryptography with the help of expert instructors to enable students to change the course of their own economic future. “We have something to bring to the world”, Osiri said.

Micah Ray is a commercial photographer, filmmaker and painter of codes. He writes on the art and culture of blockchain, NFTs, cryptocurrency, and decentralized finance.

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